Mindy Solomon, a gallerist from St. Petersburg, says she’s spontaneous. That may be an understatement: She moved her gallery, which was named one of the top 100 galleries in North America by Modern Painters magazine, from St. Petersburg to Miami’s Wynwood Art District less than 4 months after making the decision.
Mindy Solomon Gallery opened in St. Petersburg in the fall of 2009. Solomon had been an art teacher for 20 years as well as an art collector. She said she opened the gallery for a simple reason: to bring the art that she loved to the region.
“The type of work I was interested in was not being represented in the Tampa Bay area.”
The gallery primarily showcased emerging and mid-career artists from around the United States and elsewhere, something that no other galleries in the area were doing. She describes the art scene in St. Petersburg as grassroots, driven mostly by local artists. To showcase works by international artists was a bold move.
“She was really a pioneer” in Tampa Bay, said Katherine Pill, a curator at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg.
Solomon’s gallery was well-received; shops and restaurants began popping up near her store (she was the first retail location in the street) and the community began to promote the idea of an arts district.
She also attracted many serious art collectors, some of whom have spent in the six figures on art from her gallery. But she felt that she had “reached her professional ceiling in St. Petersburg” and began to consider a move to grow her gallery.
She decided to make the move shortly after she exhibited at Scope Art Fair during Art Basel in Switzerland this past June. Soon after her return, a local business owner offered to buy her space and she says he “eventually wore [her] down.” Soon after, she came to Miami to look for spaces and in the span of two weeks found an apartment on Miami Beach and a space in Wynwood. Her final show in St. Petersburg closed on Sept. 14, and within a month she had officially opened her new space.
In a review of Solomon’s final show in St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay Times art critic Lennie Bennett wrote that she’ll “miss Mindy Solomon and the vitality of her vision. I’m proud of her, too. She’s one of ours, going for the big time.”
Solomon had considered New York and Los Angeles as potential spaces to move her space, but Miami won out for a number of reasons. She had met many local gallerists during her time exhibiting at major art fairs around the world who spoke highly about their experiences operating galleries in Miami. In addition, Miami attracts significantly more international art collectors than the Tampa Bay area, particularly from South America, buyers she hopes to court.
But the most important reason for her was the ability to be able to stay close to her family that still lives on the west coast of Florida. Currently, her husband of 27 years and her youngest daughter still live in the Tampa Bay area. Her husband is a physician and her daughter is a senior in high school, making it difficult for them to move with her. Her family knew that she needed to move her gallery in order to grow her business and were “extremely supportive” of her decision to move full-time to Miami.
Because she still remains in Florida, Solomon’s family will be able to drive down on weekends to visit. One member of her family however did make the move with her: Hugo, her friendly French bulldog, who spends his days with Solomon at the gallery space.
For Solomon’s first exhibition, she will be showcasing Renaissance Men, a photography exhibition by New Orleans art collective Generic Art Solutions. The photographs are all modern recreations of famed paintings throughout history with the two members of the collective Matt Vis and Tony Campbell representing all of the people depicted in their works. The results of mining iconic works of art and placing them in a contemporary context are sometimes humorous, other times mordant and often laced with political and cultural critiques.
For their modern reinterpretation of Gericault’s famed painting The Raft of the Medusa, the collective reimagines the work as a raft of survivors from the infamous BP oil spill that ravaged the Gulf of Mexico. Another work reworks the image Michelangelo’s Pietà (the depiction of the crucified Jesus lying on the lap of Mary) by replacing the two Biblical figures with two soccer players after an arduous match.
Her upcoming shows, Solomon says, will continue to showcase the same caliber of art that she exhibited in St. Petersburg. While the gallery specializes in South Korean painting and ceramics, her new exhibits will showcase works in all mediums from around the world, including works by Florida artists.
While Miami’s art market is crowded and competitive, Solomon has no doubt her gallery will succeed. Although her decision to move was abrupt, she has no doubt she made the right decision as she says her quick intuition has steered her well in the past.
She tells an anecdote about the time she told her grandmother she was going to marry her husband after a four-month engagement, her grandmother replied to her by saying “he who acts in haste, repents at leisure.”
“It seemed to work out OK on the marriage side, so hopefully it will be OK on the gallery side.”